Until recently, the Kia Seltos iMT was available only in a single trim 1.5 NA petrol in the HTK+ guise. The company recently made this same trim available in the diesel line-up, and it is now offered with its sibling, the Hyundai Creta as well. But how exactly does the Seltos iMT (which stands for ‘intelligent Manual Transmission’) trim distinguish itself from all other variants? Here are our observations after living with it for a while.
How practical is it?
On the outside, the only badging that denotes the trim level on the Kia Seltos iMT is the iMT badging on the right front fender. The size of the Seltos, or rather most cars in this segment, seems to be a perfect fix of neither too little in terms of interior space nor too much to handle in the city, especially the likes of Mumbai.
Enter the cabin and you are greeted by a dual-tone black and beige interior theme. And while we do appreciate the fact that the beige upholstery makes the cabin feel roomy, it might be difficult for a few to maintain, more so if you have younger children around. The cup holders on the centre console fit most of the one-litre bottles on sale today. To further aid convenience, Kia has added automation in the form of automatic climate control and cruise control for those hot summer days and occasional highway drives should the situation demand. These buttons, or any buttons for that matter, are within comfortable reach of the hand, and one doesn’t have to take attention away from driving to toggle them.
For those who are particular about their phones and music, Kia offers an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless functionality for Apple CarPlay and Android auto. And in case you didn’t know, the wireless function is available only with the HTK and HTK+ variants.
What’s on the feature list?
Based on the HTK+ variant, the range of goodies on the Seltos iMT include projector headlamps, 16-inch Hyper Metallic alloy wheels, LED DRLs, rear wiper and washer, rear defogger, auto-folding ORVMs, and a dual-muffler design for the rear bumper. Notable features exclusive to this variant include beige fabric seats and an electric sunroof.
For a price tag of Rs 12.75 lakh (ex-showroom), the Seltos iMT does miss out on a few features, such as LED tail lights, backlit switchgear for the windows, and a chrome finish for the grille. That said, we certainly liked the brushed aluminium finish that made its presence felt on the grille of our test car as well as some smaller niceties like the LED room lamps, a sunglass holder, and the rear parcel tray. Did we mention that the sunshades for the second row come as standard in this variant, and without doubt, it adds to the practicality quotient of the Seltos iMT. Regarding safety features, the Seltos iMT gets dual airbags, ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors, a seat-belt reminder system, a speed alert system, disc brakes on all four corners, and a rear view camera with guidelines.
What’s the fuel efficiency like?
According to the ARAI tests,We the Kia Seltos iMT is claimed to return a fuel efficiency of 16.5kmpl. However, our tests revealed a real-world city mileage of 10.15kmpl, while the real-world highway mileage stood at 17.72kmpl, thus averaging an estimated combined mileage of 12.04kmpl. That said, the 50-litre fuel tank should return a range of approximately 602km.
How does it perform on the daily commute?
The Seltos iMT comes with a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, NA petrol engine that is tuned to produce a maximum power output of 113bhp and 144Nm of torque. While most of the technique for driving an iMT version remains the same as a conventional manual transmission, there are a few minor differences. Let me explain.
Instead of pressing the clutch (something that you would do in a conventional MT unit), here in the iMT version, one needs to press the brake before shifting the gear lever from neutral to first. Release the brake pedal and press the accelerator and you’re off to a start. Shifting gears is a regular affair here on, and there are no other special requirements over the regular MT unit. If you do happen to drive in a higher gear, the system will send out an alert on the MID as well as a constant beep to notify the driver. The overall characteristics remain the same as the manual counterpart, with the benefit of an iMT coming to use during bumper-to-bumper traffic.
A section where the iMT gearbox could become a challenge for a few, only in the beginning though, would be when the car is parked or stopped on an incline. Yes, this would apply only to newbies as the seasoned drivers will likely use the handbrake during such occasions. For a few others, the concern is usually solved by balancing the input of the accelerator and clutch with a manual gearbox, or the aforementioned safety feature in automatic units. But in situations like these where the hill hold control feature is absent, the car does tend to roll backwards, but the simple solution to this is to give a fair amount of acceleration and one will be off to a start. Parallel parking or reversing though, isn’t as tricky as one might assume, and the car moves after a light dab on the throttle.
This iMT gearbox is an ideal proposition for someone who likes to indulge in shifting gears out on the highway or an empty stretch, and simultaneously wants to avoid constantly pressing the clutch lever. Moreover, its eases the pressure on one’s left leg compared to a conventional manual transmission, which is the most important highlight of this variant. That said, the performance of the 1.5-litre petrol mill remains the same, where the power delivery is linear, and though this isn’t an outright performer, we still did manage to touch 100kmph from a standstill in 13.39 seconds.
How is it for the weekend?
The Kia Seltos iMT, available in a single variant called HTK+, misses out on the 60:40 split rear seats. The second row of seats though can be folded if you plan on moving houses or need the additional space.
The 433 litres of bootspace in the Seltos is one of the best in its segment, and as you can see in the images here, it managed to swallow a fair bit of luggage, including two large suitcases and another soft bag. A 60:40 split seat function would’ve further increased the versatility quotient of this variant, we feel. The parcel tray, on the other hand, can handle the smaller bits like your laptop bag, a backpack, and so on.
What’s the deal with the warranty?
Kia India offers a standard warranty of three years and unlimited kilometres, with an option of extending it to five years. The latter can be purchased at the dealer level. Also on offer is a three-year, 24x7 Road-Side Assistance (RSA) service.
The Kia Seltos iMT then is an enticing proposition, more so when you consider the price of Rs 12.75 lakh (ex-showroom) and the convenience of a clutchless manual unit. It has a generous amount of features including a sunroof and sun shades, and is spacious enough for those occasional weekend trips to a nearby hill station or beach. It returns a favourable number in terms of fuel economy while giving the fun of a manual unit out on the highway, as well as the satisfaction of an automatic unit in the city or during heavy traffic. This might even appeal to a few enthusiasts of today, or the modern enthusiast, if I may? Kia seems to be leaving no stone unturned in terms of variants and options, and rightfully so; the market appears to be rewarding them well.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi